Many times, when explaining the biography of a great personality, the early stage and all that it implies is left out. But as the saying goes, no one was born knowing everything.. Even humanity’s brightest minds have needed teachers to start their training process. In the case of Dalí, he had some teachers, even in kindergarten, who guided him in channeling his enormous creative potential. Talent alone without hard work or technique does not build an artistic career like Dalí’s. And that’s precisely what his teachers brought him.

Nor can we overlook the friendships he made during his childhood and youth. Some of the kids he played with on the street or with whom he shared his high school classes would end up becoming important personas from Empordà. Similarly, when he went to Madrid, his fellow residents at the Residencia de Estudiantes would become notable names in universal culture, just like him.

Esteve Trayter Colomer

He was the painter’s first teacher during his kindergarten years at the Municipal School. Trayter, a collector, cartoonist and Francophile, used an innovative pedagogical method based on conversations and games inspired by the theories of the German teacher Friedrich Fröbel. This know-how helped awaken the creativity in Salvador Dalí.

In addition, it was at that early time when he discovered optical illusions and double images, which would influence his artistic career.

Juan Núñez Fernández

Núñez was Dalí’s teacher at both the Municipal School of Drawing in 1916 and the Ramon Muntaner Institute (high school). He immediately realized his artistic aptitude. As the painter himself wrote in his youth diary, Núñez encouraged him to focus on the world of art and promised to speak with his father to ensure he wouldn't hinder his artistic education.

Dalí always acknowledged that his teacher, who taught him the foundations of technique, instilled in him the need for disciplined work and taught him engraving.

Federico García Lorca

Dalí met the Andalusian writer at the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid. Although Federico García Lorca was slightly older, they immediately established a strong friendship thanks to shared interests such as the popular and traditional music they had been raised with as children; enthusiasm for Rubén Dario's poetry, and a fascination with France.

Their relationship was so good that in 1925 and 1927 the painter invited Lorca to Figueres and Cadaqués, and the Dalí family welcomed him with open arms. During those years, references to their friendship would often appear in the young Salvador's paintings. However, the relationship cooled off as a result of Lorca’s unrequited love for him and of Dalí and Buñuel’s gradual intellectual distancing from the Andalusian artist.

Luis Buñuel Portolés

Luis Buñuel arrived in Madrid from Aragon with the idea of becoming an agricultural engineer but would eventually become a film director.

He spent seven years at the Residencia de Estudiantes and befriended Dalí and Lorca. That triangle, to which Pepin Bello was added, was broken, in part, because the filmmaker did not accept the poet’s homosexuality and considered it a bad influence on the painter. In addition, while Buñuel and Dalí approached surrealism, Lorca, with works such as “Romancero gitano” (Gypsy Ballads) remained faithful to a more popular and traditional art, further separating them.

The final break came with the famous film Un chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog, 1929), where they indirectly mocked the writer. In the long run, however, Buñuel would also end up distancing himself from Dalí because of the painter’s lack of political-ideological involvement and the beginning of his relationship with Gala.

Image: Emmanuel Radnitzky, CC BY-SA 4.0

Jaume “Met” Miravitlles Navarra

The one who would later become the Commissioner of Propaganda for the (republican or legitimate) Government of Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War was one of Dalí's closest childhood and youth friends. They went to school together at the Marist School and the Institute (high school) and shared a jail cell in 1924 when they were imprisoned in Girona by the authorities of Primo de Rivera's dictatorship.

In 1929, he participated in the filming of Un chien andalou (literally, An Andalusian Dog), where he appeared alongside the painter, playing the role of a Marist. They later coincided in New York, where Miravitlles had gone into exile, and they would often meet at the Hotel Saint Regis to recall the Figueres of their adolescence. They met again in Figueres and collaborated on the creation of the Dalí Theater-Museum.

Carles Fages de Climent

The acquaintance with this particular writer dates back to their primary education years at La Salle School. Though they didn't become close friends, they maintained a very good relationship throughout their lives and collaborated on various creative projects.

Dalí illustrated his first poetry book entitled Les bruixes de Llers (The Witches of Llers), and later also the book El sabater d'Ordis (The Cobbler of Ordis). Additionally, the painter’s work was exhibited at the nighttime venue that Fages de Climent opened in Selva de Mar during the 1960s and he also dedicated the watercolor painting El Crist de la tramuntana (Christ of the Tramuntana Wind) to him.

Joan Subias Galter

Subias was the oldest brother Dalí never had. Five years older than Salvador, he had a great knowledge of the avant-garde movements that were emerging in Europe. Subias quickly recognized Dalí's talent and arranged for the Figueres City Council to commission him for the poster of the 1922 La Santa Creu Fair poster

There is evidence of Joan Subias’s influence on the surrealist genius because his name is mentioned several times in his youth diary.

Joan Xirau Palau

He coincided with Dalí at the Ramon Muntaner Institute (high school) and was one of the main members of Studium magazine, financially supported by his father, Ramon Xirau Llorens.

Since they were friends, he often accompanied Dalí while he painted outdoors and frequently visited him at his studio.

He later studied Pharmacy. After the Civil War he went into exile in Mexico and returned to Figueres in 1955. Dalí portrayed him in Bañista (1924) and also made a drawing of his brother Joaquim.

Ramon Reig Coromines

He befriended Dalí at the Municipal School of Drawing, and their friendship continued during their high school years. Both shared the passion for art and often went out to paint the surroundings of Vilabertran, where the Reig family had a house.

Unlike Dalí, Reig always preferred watercolor painting, a technique he mastered to such an extent that he is considered one of the greatest landscape painters from Empordà. In addition, he was one of the creators of the Empordà Museum, where he worked as a curator until his death.

Alexandre Deulofeu Torres

He is one of the most unique characters in 20th-century Figueres. He and Dalí lived on the same street and grew up playing together. They later attended the same high school.

Despite studying pharmacy and chemistry, fueled by his enormous curiosity, he developed a mathematical theory of history that allowed for the prediction of cycles in civilizations and empires.

Deulofeu was the mayor of Figueres during the Civil War and later had to go into exile. Starting in the 1950s, Dalí and Deulofeu met again and began a friendship characterized by their shared interest in history and science, which were recurrent themes in their conversations.

Meliton “Meli” Casals

This photographer, originally from Vic and having studied in Barcelona, arrived in Figueres in 1944, where he opened a studio on the Rambla. Thanks to his work and character, he made friends with the people in the city's cultural circle, such as Ramon Reig, Carles Fages de Climent and Montserrat Vayreda.

As of 1948, when Dalí settled in Portlligat, Dalí and the photographer collaborated extensively, and Casals’ services were required to photograph his new paintings, performances or Gala.

It was he who, in 1960 and at the request of the Figueres mayor, proposed Dalí donate one of his works to the city’s museum, the Museu de l'Empordà, to which Dalí not only agreed but decided to establish an entire museum in Figueres. Dalí put Meli in charge of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation in 1984. The Meli Collection, with photos relating to the painter, consists of 8,000 negatives and is held at the Foundation.